I had an interesting discussion today with Ajay, a friend of Darya’s. He suggested, more playing the devil’s advocate it seems than anything else, that what I see as truth is my truth: a view of convenience. Intuitively, of course, I feel it is BS – if someone doesn’t agree with my view that honor killings are wrong, they are either stuck in a different time or are idiots. Yet, intuition is knee-jerk and ugly and is not always productive.
So how can I deal with this suggestion? Well, 2 thoughts come to mind:
First Reasoning – Universal Truth
in all religious, the intelligentsia, the evolved elite arrive at the same natural conclusions – the core human values, which amount to respect of individual rights. Yet this might not be sufficient.
Second Reasoning – Descartes.
When Descartes was trying to prove our existence, he asked the question that was something like “What if everything we feel is a lie? What if our brains are in some jars and some evil genius is feeding us signals? How do we know we exist?” Then he had to cast away all information leaving only the core. And the core is that we doubt our own existence. With everything else under question, there is still something that remains. And this lead to the famous “I doubt – therefore I exist”, which is “I think, therefore I am”.
In which case I propose the second reasoning. If we assume that all schools of thought are fallible without exception, then I think the following fundamental values should apply because they assume that every statement can be wrong:
- nobody has the right to impose upon anybody else
- in event of imposition, a judgement and imposition can be made by someone trusted by the majority of society that accepted clause 1.
What does it mean? Ultimately, we all strive towards a society where every member is in a bubble that nobody else can get into unless they are invited. However, the world is far from perfect, so 1 will most certainly not always be the case. Then, when there is imposition, it is dealt with through structures accepted by those who accept the fundamental premise that we imposition should be minimal.
So, as an example, let’s take excision in some Islamic cultures. This is something that clearly imposes upon girls. Since it is an imposition, the judgement should be made by structures who are endowed with a right to solve this problem by societies that have accepted 1 – so the Western society can make this call.
Same would go for, say, spanking a child. So imposition is ok so long as members of the society who respect human rights accept the imposition as necessary.
Of course, this still doesn’t answer the question of why clause 1 is something that should be held to be universally true when it actually goes against so many schools of thought. My answer to this is that every school of thought seeks balance and peace and ability to live lives that do not intersect at all is ultimate balance and peace. Thus, this is actually a common purpose despite not being explicit.
Although all this is a moot point. I think that what makes us human is the desire to be happy. Whether it is submitting as part of Islam, Christianity, or pursuit of business enterprise. And if we assume this fundamental desire to be universally, clause 1 is the ultimate individual implementation. Philosophically there are many problems with this, yet, philosophy seems completely irrelevant given the injustices some people on this earth experience at the present time…
What is bothering me in that I Ayaan’s clarity of thought. This issue should be so clear, so transparent, yet I find myself grasping for straws to fight moral relativism. What am I missing?